1. Lack of pro-life Democrats in race saddens advocates, ‘Whole Life’ liberals want more options in presidential campaign.

By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times, August 6, 2019, Pg. A3

Pro-life advocates and Democrats are lamenting the absence of abortion as a debate topic among the Democratic presidential candidates, calling for a little nuance on the issue.

“CNN didn’t notice the life issue last night,” the advocacy group Students for Life of America said in a fundraising email after the last week’s Democratic debates in Detroit.

 Democrats for Life of America, an advocacy group, held its annual Pro-Life for the Whole Life conference in East Lansing, Michigan, a few days before the two-night debates in Detroit.

“In the pro-life community, people think that you only oppose abortion, but being Democrats, we have a broader definition of it,” Kristen Day, Democrats for Life’s executive director, told CBS News affiliate WLNS.

 Estimates vary on how many Democrats oppose abortion. According to a Marist poll conducted in February by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, 34% of Democrats consider themselves “pro-life.”

But the poll also shows that identifying oneself as pro-life is not the same as supporting efforts to outlaw abortion. States that have enacted bans on abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy or earlier have found that not all pro-life voters oppose abortion in every circumstance. The Marist poll found that 80% of Americans are comfortable with abortion limited to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.


2. Ex-cardinal’s letters to victims show signs of grooming.

By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, August 6, 2019, 6:20 AM

At first glance, the handwritten postcards and letters look innocuous, even warm, sometimes signed off by “Uncle T.” or “Your uncle, Father Ted.”

But taken in context, the correspondence penned by disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick to the young men he is accused of sexually abusing or harassing is a window into the way a predator grooms his prey, according to two abuse prevention experts who reviewed it for The Associated Press. Full of flattery, familiarity and boasts about his own power, the letters provide visceral evidence of how a globe-trotting bishop made young, vulnerable men feel special — and then allegedly took advantage of them.

The AP is publishing correspondence McCarrick wrote to three men ahead of the promised release of the Vatican’s own report into who knew what and when about his efforts to bed would-be priests. Access to an archbishop for young men seeking to become priests “is a key piece of the grooming process here,” said one of the experts, Monica Applewhite.


3. In letter, pope encourages priests dejected by abuse crisis.

By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, August 5, 2019, 8:33 AM

Pope Francis acknowledged the shame and frustration felt by priests who are discouraged by the actions of fellow clergy members who betrayed the trust of their flock through sexual abuse and abuse of conscience and power.

In a letter addressed to priests around the world Aug. 4, the pope said that many priests have spoken or written to him expressing “their outrage at what happened” and the doubts and fears the sexual abuse crisis has caused.

“Without denying or dismissing the harm caused by some of our brothers, it would be unfair not to express our gratitude to all those priests who faithfully and generously spend their lives in the service of others,” he said.

Commemorating the 160th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, patron saint of parish priests, the pope praised those priests who, like their patron, carry out their mission “often without fanfare and at personal cost, amid weariness, infirmity and sorrow.”


4. Sole Protestant member of Vatican’s Academy of Life warns against assisted suicide.

By Charles C. Camosy, Crux, August 5, 2019

[Editor’s Note: Nigel Biggar is an Anglican clergyman and the Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford, where he also directs the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life. Before assuming his current post he occupied chairs in Theology at the University of Leeds and at Trinity College, Dublin. A former President of the Society for the Study of Christian Ethics (UK), he has sat on the ethics committee of the Royal College of Physicians and on a Royal Society working party on population growth. He was appointed a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life in 2017. He spoke to Charles Camosy about Christian ethics in the world today.] 

Camosy: On the other hand, however, many of your arguments proved influential four years ago when the British House of Commons overwhelmingly rejected physician-assisted suicide 330-118. What an amazing victory that was. Can you tell us a bit about how it came to be and what Catholics resisting these practices in the U.S. might learn from it?

Biggar: I have read through and analyzed the parliamentary debate of September 2015 about the Marris bill to legalize assisted suicide, which was subsequently defeated by an overwhelming margin of 330 votes to 118.

In the debate, a number of points kept recurring. One was the slippery slope that I have described: If the terminally ill should be eligible, why not also the chronically ill; and if the physically ill, why not the grievously bereaved or the deeply depressed?

Another recurring concern was with a different slippery slope, namely, one that begins with a ‘right to die’ but develops into a social communicated ‘duty to die.’ A further concern was that patients would opt for assisted suicide because they feel that they are a burden-and statistics from Oregon and Washington state were cited to substantiate this.

Camosy: No doubt in part due to your pro-life credentials with regard to assisted suicide and euthanasia, you were recently invited to be a part of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Can you tell us about what it was like for an Anglican priest and scholar like yourself to be part of that particular academy?

Biggar: I am one of half-a-dozen non-Roman Catholics who were privileged to be invited to join the Academy in 2017, and I am the only Protestant. I understand that this innovation was intended by Pope Francis to signal a new openness to and engagement with non-Catholic thought, and I am very happy to support that.

In addition, I have long had a high regard for the intellectual rigor of Catholic moral theology, and I have therefore been pleased to be part of the Academy’s deliberations. One very striking feature of the Academy’s meetings is their global reach, bringing together, as they do, moral theologians and other scholars from all over the world, from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, as well as Europe and North America.


5. The Shroud of Turin: Latest Study Deepens Mystery, Researchers cast doubt on the findings of the controversial 1988 study.

By K.V. Turley, National Catholic Register, August 5, 2019

A new French-Italian study on the Shroud of Turin throws doubt on what many thought was the definitive dating of the cloth believed by millions to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

This latest two-year study was headed and funded by French independent researcher Tristan Casabianca, with a team of Italian researchers and scientists: Emanuela Marinelli, who has written extensively about the shroud; Giuseppe Pernagallo, data analyst and senior tutor at the University of Catania, Italy; and Benedetto Torrisi, associate professor of economic statistics at the University of Catania.

In 1988 radiocarbon tests on the Shroud of Turin dated the cloth to between 1260 and 1390. The implication was clear: The shroud was a medieval forgery. After a 2017 Freedom of Information (FOI) request, a new team of researchers gained access to the original data used for the 1988 test. The findings of this new team are that the 1988 test results were unreliable.

“For almost 30 years, scholars asked in vain for the raw data from the three laboratories and the supervising institution, the British Museum,” Casabianca told the Register. “I graduated in law, so I had the idea to make a legal request based on the Freedom of Information Act. The British Museum was the only institution to fully and quickly answer my request.”

Only then, after the British Museum acceded to the FOI — something it was legally obliged to do — did Casabianca and his teams gain access to hundreds of unpublished pages from the earlier study. The subsequent examination of the data by the Franco/Italian team found evidence, now published in Oxford University’s Archaeometry, which suggests that the methods employed by the 1988 scientists were flawed.

Casabianca’s team found that the 1988 carbon dating was unreliable, as only pieces from the edges of the cloth were radiocarbon tested.

Like others engaged in the study of the shroud, Breault also has doubts about the samples used in 1988. He said that the latest study “tells us there is something anomalous with the single sample used to date the shroud. This is something we have long suspected because the corner chosen was absolutely the most handled area of the cloth, exactly where it was held up by hand for hundreds of public exhibitions over the centuries.”

In light of the latest findings, the 1988 testing, its results and the scientists involved in them will doubtless be the subject of further speculation. As to further tests, only the Vatican can authorize these. To do so, however, would cast doubt on the 1988 tests. As Breault acknowledged: “Politically the Church does not want to be viewed as anti-science. Hence, the shroud is often referred to as a ‘symbol of Christ’s suffering, worthy of veneration.’”   

He said that this definition is necessary, as the word “symbol” does not make a statement regarding the authenticity of the artifact. To call the shroud a “relic” would imply it is authentic, whereas to call it an “icon” is to suggest that it is manmade.


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